It has been roughly two weeks since the last of the fantasy championships played out, and for better or worse, you’re still standing. While early offseason mock drafts reign in the foreground, looming questions linger in the background.
Who can I draft next year?
Will they fall to me again?
Why did they take Friends off of Netflix?
Anyone, maybe, because it’s a terrible show.
The exciting thing about fantasy football is that every season is different, no matter how hard you might try to re-spark the magic of your winning season. Who could’ve predicted that D.J. Chark was a Top 5 WR to start the year, or that Devante Parker and Ryan Fitzpatrick would be league winners? Not many.
I think it’s important to reflect on this season. All the decisions you made that helped or hinder you are lessons you can pick up and learn from. Lessons like, ‘Why the hell did I draft Aaron Rodgers?‘ and ‘But he was supposed to be a break-out candidate!‘. The latter is what I’m excited to write about.
I’ve compiled a list of players charged with first-degree fantasy team murder. The following offensive players (there’ll be an IDP list down the road) are guilty of cuckolding your team at one point or another. Whether it was invested in draft capital, a missed shot or lingering injuries woes, all are culprits. If they hurt your team, especially when you needed them the most, they’re in here.
I present to you the 2019 All-Bust Team.
One of the first 5 QBs in ADP off the board this past season, he gave you the heads up of being bad for fantasy early. The rookie darling looked promising to lead a high-powered offense in what should have been a Super Bowl contending team. Instead, he flopped under now-dethroned HC Freddie Kitchens. The fantasy finish (QB19) isn’t the true indicator of Mayfield’s talents, as it’s important to remember he’ll be going into his third year under a fourth HC and three different offensive coordinators.
Sweet talk and reminders about trouble in paradise are dismissive at this point. Baker was 2nd in the league in interceptions (21), posted the 2nd-worst regular-season QBR (78.8), and the 2nd-worst completion rate in the league out of 32 qualifying quarterbacks (59.4%) It’s evident that his draft stock, much like 2018 Kirk Cousins, will take a nose-dive. Definitely the most disappointing fantasy quarterback performance in recent memory.
This one also kind of sucked. Rivers had had success in the past as a reliable (if not spectacular) option at QB, but his past two seasons have really gone down the toilet. Third, in the league in interceptions (20) and a QB15 finish, Rivers also threw for the fewest passing touchdowns in his career (23) since 2007, where he threw 21. His ability to support fantasy wunderkinds around him and give you zero consistency week in and out is mind-boggling.
Rivers posted more games this season with just as many or more interceptions than touchdowns (10) than he did games with more touchdowns than interceptions (6). That includes a game where he threw neither, with both of those games garnering him QB No. 24 finishes. Rivers’ days of fantasy-winning weeks are done.
What an upsetting season. David Johnson looked prime to make a comeback into RB1 territory, considering he finished on the borderline as the RB9 in 2018. He actually started the season off amazing and was the RB5 through the first 6 weeks of the season. However, that Week 7 injury cost him his season and his job. He actually scored more points in Week 7 than he did the rest of the season combined.
Johnson was a high-profile drop candidate, and smart owners cut bait early. It was Kenyan Drake, not Johnson, that carried many managers to the promised land. Johnson’s RB37 finish is by far the lowest of his career (I’m not counting 2017), and I’ll honestly be surprised if he makes it back to the desert next season.
If you had him last year, congrats. He was a steal and a league winner, and though his production slipped a bit towards the end of the season, he was still the RB6, averaging over 21 points a game. This year he finished just ahead of David Johnson at RB36. Conner’s regression didn’t really hit, but his circumstances and injuries sure as hell did. Losing a franchise quarterback in the second game of the season is one thing. Missing 6 games sporadically is a whole other problem.
The fact is that Conner hurt you when you thought you could trust him. After a nice showing in Week 15 following a three-game absence, he left after 6 carries for 32 yards in Week 16. Conner’s body hates football, and that’s a real shame. He’s a terrific runner, but the man just can’t stay healthy. Hopefully, an offseason full of recuperation and training will lead him back to great numbers. He’s one of the few players on this list I can see being a viable bounce-back candidate for next year.
In an offseason already full of speculation, many were hesitant on Juju initially. Of course, that was before 2 quarterback changes and an injury-riddled season. Those who thought Juju could succeed without AB never really got to see it, as the Patriots defense shut everyone down Week 1 and Ben was gone for the year by Week 2. From then on, Juju had to rely on either Mason Rudolph or ‘Duck’ Hodges for fantasy reliability, two names that 100% definitely come to the forefront when I think of fantasy production.
When Juju wasn’t busy not being fantasy-relevant, he was off the field with knee and concussion issues. He did manage to start the season okay (WR26 for the first 5 weeks), but his lack of looks and target consistency hurt him down the stretch. JuJu actually had just as many receptions in his first 4 games (17) as he did in Weeks 8-17. He was thrown into an unfortunate situation, but he failed to produce.
It’s unfortunate that all these guys (minus the quarterbacks) have missed time due to injury, but their high draft capital and previous fantasy seasons can’t be ignored. So we begin our look into Brandin Cooks.
A Top-15 WR every season since 2015, Cooks is a big downfield threat that is hard to eliminate. His success in 2018 after the midseason injury departure of Cooper Kupp set him up to potentially be Jared Goff‘s No. 1 target. He was out-produced almost immediately by Kupp, who began to resurge after a lost 2018 season. Cooks fell off after Week 4, and never really got back on.
Cooks missed three games after goosing in Week 8 and wasn’t the same player after his return from a concussion in Week 12. He goosed again in Week 14 and finished the year as the WR62, the lowest finish of his career. That’s a steep fall for a player that was drafted on average as the 14th or 15th wide receiver off the board.
I could write entire articles over my hate of O.J. Howard‘s usage this season. Don’t get me wrong, I love the player. He’s a terrific athlete and is dangerous when he’s being utilized. Unfortunately, with Bruce Arians as your coach, you don’t get used that much. One of the most popular sleeper tight ends of the preseason, he was the 4th TE drafted based on ADP, but boy did he fail to deliver.
Not only was he the TE No. 30 for the first 6 weeks, but he also missed two weeks after his bye. Upon his return, he scores a touchdown (his only TD of the season, by the way) and finishes as the No. 7 tight end on the week. Gets you excited, right?
Right. Except for the fact that you probably didn’t play him. If you still had him (somehow), and you didn’t play him, you might have plugged him in the next week. That was fun. That was a nice stat line. 0-0-0.
You thought you could trust him, and he gooses you. A whopping zero points one week after the Top-10 finish you’ve been waiting all season for. Do I sound like I’m personally victimized by it? Sure. But that’s what fantasy is, and that’s what Bruce Arians does to tight ends. Howard finished the year as the TE29, just ahead of our other tight end.
This is the one that personally affects me.
I vouched for you, Vance. I told people to draft you. In fact, he was most commonly drafted tight end across all my leagues. Sure, Roethlisberger getting injured hurt your season. But you didn’t have to be as bad as you were, man. Vance gave many of us that drafted him, hope that he could be a reliable target for a 2nd-year quarterback, a sort of check-down safety blanket for Mason Rudolph to kind of aim at.
He finished as the TE No. 3 during his huge 2-touchdown performance in Week 2. It was all downhill after that. What started out as a promising option soon ended up as the TE30 on the season, and the least re-draftable tight end in recent memory.
Phillip Lindsay, Running back
This one also hurts. Yes, he finished inside the Top 20. Yes, that makes him an RB2 on the season. Tell me this though; did you actually play him all year? Was he someone that you knew a week in and week out what he could deliver? James White finished one spot ahead of him, but you knew every week White was going to give you between 13-15 points. With Lindsay, you couldn’t predict a thing.
He’s frustrating to watch. All the talent in the world is there with this guy. He actually rushed for over 1,000 yards again! He had 7 touchdowns! And yet still, if you played him, you might’ve lost weeks. He was by far the most inconsistent running back in fantasy this season, and really slowed down over the last half of the season. He finished lower than he did last year, but still within the acceptable range for start-worthy players. He’s going to be pretty difficult to rank next season.
Dante Pettis, Wide Receiver
Raise your hand if you believed the Dante Pettis hype. I mean, who knows, maybe Kyle Shanahan is holding back Pettis until the postseason. Maybe he is a weapon that the coach wanted to keep under wraps. Maybe, just maybe….he’s not a great player.
One of the highest-touted sleeper receivers for this year, he made many lists as one of the top candidates to surprise and exceed expectations. Shanahan must’ve heard about this and pulled the ole’ Bruce Arians switcharoo; Pettis saw 24 targets and made 11 receptions for 109 yards and 2 touchdowns before being inactive for the last half of the season. The fact that he was a healthy scratch wasn’t a great sign for the young wideout. He had been rumored to have been in Shanahan’s doghouse due to his efforts during training camp.
Many wasted a valuable mid-round or late mid-round picks on the wideout (ADP: WR42). Pettis was drafted on average higher than DeVante Parker (ADP: WR69 – finished as WR11), DJ Chark (ADP: WR102 – finished as WR17), Courtland Sutton (ADP: WR44 – finished as WR19), and A.J. Brown (ADP: WR77 – finished as WR21).
Having a my-guy is always important for fantasy. It’s important to have a player you believe in to make a difference for their team. Unfortunately, you can’t always predict who that’s going to be, and you might be as dead wrong as they come. Just remember that fantasy football is an ever-changing landscape that shifts and slides around, and is just as unpredictable as Devante Parker’s season.
Here’s to next year.
Zach Hargis is a writer for Dynasty Football Digest. He enjoys playing the drums, doing voice impressions, and quoting The Office. If any of those things interest you, he welcomes you to follow him on Twitter @ZachFFDrummer and to check out his personal interests on Instagram @zakktastic.